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Coastal polynyas: winter oases for subadult southern elephant seals in East Antarctica


Labrousse, S and Williams, G and Tamura, T and Bestley, S and Sallee, J-B and Fraser, AD and Sumner, M and Roquet, F and Heerah, K and Picard, B and Guinet, C and Harcourt, R and McMahon, C and Hindell, MA and Charrassin, J-B, Coastal polynyas: winter oases for subadult southern elephant seals in East Antarctica, Scientific Reports, 8 Article 3183. ISSN 2045-2322 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-018-21388-9


Antarctic coastal polynyas are regions of persistent open water and are thought to be key bio-physical features within the sea-ice zone. However, their use by the upper trophic levels of ecosystems remains unclear. A unique bio-physical dataset recorded by southern elephant seals reveals that East Antarctic polynyas are a key winter foraging habitat for male seals. During their post-moult trips from Isles Kerguelen to the Antarctic continental shelf, a total of 18 out of 23 seals visited 9 different polynyas, spending on average 25  20% (up to 75%) of their total trip time inside polynyas. Changes in seal foraging and diving behaviours are observed inside polynyas as compared to outside polynyas. Two polynya usages by seals are observed for the inactive and active polynya phases, pointing to different seasonal peaks in prey abundance. During the active polynya phase, we link seal foraging behaviour to changes in the physical stability of the water-column, which likely impact the seasonal biological dynamics within polynyas.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, ecosystems, tracking, elephant seals, Antarctica, polynyas
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Labrousse, S (Ms Sara Labrousse)
UTAS Author:Williams, G (Mr Guy Williams)
UTAS Author:Tamura, T (Dr Takeshi Tamura)
UTAS Author:Bestley, S (Dr Sophie Bestley)
UTAS Author:Fraser, AD (Dr Alex Fraser)
UTAS Author:Sumner, M (Mr Michael Sumner)
UTAS Author:Heerah, K (Ms Karine Heerah)
UTAS Author:McMahon, C (Dr Clive McMahon)
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:130086
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:25
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-01-09
Last Modified:2019-03-15
Downloads:78 View Download Statistics

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